Loop Trolley | St. Louis Public Radio

Loop Trolley

St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder, R-Ballwin
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder is the latest guest on Politically Speaking. St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue and Jason Rosenbaum talked with the Ballwin Republican about a multitude of issues, including the ongoing saga of the Loop Trolley.

Harder represents the council’s 7th District, which takes in most of western St. Louis County. He is the council’s longest-serving member after Hazel Erby resigned to take a post in St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s administration.

Since he’s not up for election this year, Harder could run in a special election for St. Louis County executive as a Republican and not give up his council seat. He said he hasn’t made a decision on whether he will run. 

Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue and Jason Rosenbaum take a look at local, state and national stories that made news this week.

They include the unsuccessful proposal from the head of the Bi-State Development Agency to revive the Loop Trolley, which shut down after a string of financial difficulties. St. Louis Public Radio’s Kae Petrin joined the show to talk about the proposal, which failed to get approval from a Bi-State board committee on Friday.

Two trolleys sit in a garage as workers try to fix an electric problem during a week of test drives. June 8 , 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The quest to bring the Loop Trolley back to life under St. Louis’ regional transit agency has failed. 

Bi-State Development committee members on Friday declined to send to its full Board of Commissioners a proposal to temporarily take over running the trolley. Members of the committees challenged the plausibility and business sense of the proposal, a four-year management contract aimed at making the trolley self-sustaining by 2024. 

Taulby Roach, Bi-State president and CEO, said after the meeting that he does not plan to revise the proposal.

Loop Trolley
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of the agency that runs the region’s transit network characterized the Loop Trolley as a “troubled project” Tuesday but still said his organization should attempt to turn it around.

St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

At 34, Lisa Clancy is the youngest member of the St. Louis County Council and one of its newer members — she only joined the council a year ago. 

Last week, her colleagues unanimously chose her as chairwoman.

A Democrat from Maplewood, Clancy has pushed for more affordable housing resources in the county. She’s also part of the progressive wing of the board, which is controlled by Democrats.

The Loop Trolley drew a crowd of people hoping to catch a ride on its last day Sunday.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Over the past 13 months, the Loop Trolley regularly traveled a 2.2-mile route from the Missouri History Museum to the Delmar Loop and back again several days each week. But on Sunday afternoon, it made its final few laps along those tracks — at least for now — before going out of service due to funding problems.

St. Louis on the Air connected with people who were gathered at the history museum stop that day to bid the trolley farewell, many of them hoping to ride it for the first and potentially last time.

And while the trolley struggled to attract robust ridership over the course of its months in operation, it faced a different challenge on its last day: There were so many would-be riders that some were turned away. In addition, only one of the two operating trolley vehicles was in service Sunday, and it encountered technical issues that caused significant delays on its final trip.

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend, the Delmar Loop Trolley could make its last run.

The beleaguered trolley has run out of funding after struggling to grow ridership amidst inconsistent schedules and negative public perception. 

But the Bi-State Development Agency is considering converting the trolley into part of the region’s public transit system. Under Bi-State ownership, the trolley would take Metro Transit tickets and run on a regular schedule. 

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 7 with a statement from Bi-State Development —

The struggling Loop Trolley has received enough funding to keep running until January. 

The money comes from the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, a political group that advocates for the trolley. It will keep the trolley operating with reduced hours. Without additional funding, the trolley could cease operations after Jan. 1. 

It was a standing-room-only affair on one of the trolleys last weekend.
File photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Only 11 months into its operating life, the Loop Trolley may not be long for this world. The Loop Trolley Company announced Oct. 12 that it needs an influx of $200,000 to continue running the trolley cars through the end of 2019 — and another $500,000 for next year.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin went behind the headlines with STLPR political correspondent Jason Rosenbaum for analysis of the latest developments surrounding the trolley.

Years in the making, the Loop Trolley took $51 million to build, with the majority of the funding coming from a Federal Transit Administration grant.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-south St. Louis County, voted against a few nominees to the Board of Freeholders that were proposed by County Executive Sam Page.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council signed off on eight of nine nominees to the regional Board of Freeholders on Tuesday night.

It is waiting to vote on the ninth nominee, independent Dee Joyner, until next week, said the council’s presiding officer, Ernie Trakas. The county council members haven’t had a chance to interview Joyner yet because she has been out of the country.

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll break down some of the week’s biggest stories in federal, state and local politics.

Of particular interest for many St. Louis area residents is the financial peril surrounding the Loop Trolley.

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The presiding officer of the St. Louis County Council won’t introduce legislation to provide more money for the Loop Trolley — a move that could make it difficult to get the measure past the finish line.

It’s a setback for a service that’s trying to piece together enough money to remain solvent through the rest of the year.

The Loop Trolley currently operates Thursdays through Sundays, beginning at noon.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Loop Trolley could become insolvent unless it comes up with $200,000 in November, according to the company’s president. 

The Loop Trolley Co. requested $200,000 from the St. Louis County Transit Fund in September to keep the trolley running for the rest of the year, company President John S. Meyer Jr. said in an email Saturday. It also requested $500,000 to operate next year. 

If the company does not receive financial assistance, the trolley could stop operating as soon as Nov. 15, Meyer said. 

Loop Trolley
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Loop Trolley platform just outside the Pageant in the Delmar Loop was packed last Friday evening with people waiting to board. That hasn’t been a common sight in recent months following the launch of the controversial trolley, but on this particular night, something was different.

Local comedian Yale Hollander was rolling out the first iteration of Laugh Tracks, a unique comedic combination in which attendees need only pay the $2 trolley fare for about 45 minutes of family-friendly standup while riding the nostalgic vehicle.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” Washington University graduate student Zack Goldman said while in line for the event. “I’ve never even heard of comedians on a trolley before. I’ve also never been on the trolley ... so I’m open to new possibilities.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 9, 2009 - Supporters of a project to restore some of St. Louis' storied trolleys to the Delmar Loop area told the public Wednesday that the project had the power to boost the local economy and spur development.

Backers are proposing a fixed-track trolley system that would run down Delmar, starting at Trinity Avenue, and turn south on DeBaliviere Avenue to the Missouri History Museum. At a public forum Wednesday at the Regional Arts Commission, backers said the system would also boost tourism and provide a clean, sustainable form of transportation there. About 100 people attended the forum.

The Loop Trolley currently operates Thursdays through Sundays, beginning at noon.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air featured a discussion about the latest developments and challenges along the eight-block Delmar Loop entertainment, dining and shopping district located in University City and the city of St. Louis.

Joining the conversation with executive producer Alex Heuer was Rachelle L’Ecuyer, executive director of the Delmar Loop.

The segment also included pre-recorded comments from passersby, business owners, a Loop Trolley rider and St. Louis University's Bob Lewis, who is an assistant professor of urban planning and development.

Dedication Ceremony for Loop Trolley at Delmar Hall.  Nov. 15, 2018
Melody Walker|St. Louis Public Radio

The Delmar Loop Trolley was scheduled to welcome riders today for the first time. But the storm that dumped several inches of snow across the region Wednesday night put the breaks on the long awaited launch.

“We’ve waited this long,” said Loop Trolley Company executive director Kevin Barbeau, “What’s one more day?”

Barbeau said the trolley cars will be able to function in any kind weather. But the safety committee didn’t think it was prudent to begin service undersuch inclement conditions.

The Loop Trolley during a test drive on June 13, 2018.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials of the Loop Trolley Company say there will be a “soft opening” of the Delmar Loop Trolley soon with a big celebration and official launch to follow.

Sound familiar?

The 2.2 mile project has been delayed repeatedly by lack of equipment, lack of training and lack of money.

The Delmar Loop in 2017

Rachelle L’Ecuyer grew up right near the Delmar Loop, so becoming its first-ever executive director earlier this month felt a lot like coming home. Still, she’s been looking at the area with fresh eyes.

“I was walking down Delmar yesterday, and I was taking a picture of the Tivoli sign, and two young men walked up to me and I said, ‘I love it!’” she said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And they looked at me and I said [again], ‘I love it.’ And I pointed from bottom to top, and they said, ‘Oh, I love it: The Tivoli spelled backwards is ‘I love it.’ And we ended up having a pretty long conversation about the Loop.”

The head of a developer with strong St. Louis ties is hoping his commitment to the Loop Trolley will help lift a cloud that has been hanging over the project.

ClayCo Chief Executive Officer Bob Clark says his company decided to make a $750,000 commitment after sensing the initiative was getting a "toxic" reputation.

"It's indicative of a place that is kind of stuck. All of this negativity all of a sudden becomes reality if somebody doesn't do something about it. So, I felt very strongly that it can be exciting," Clark said. "It can be a winning thing."

Two yellow signs indicate a streetcar crossing on Delmar Blvd.
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in more than 50 years, trolley cars – a few of them, at least – will be rolling down the streets of St. Louis. Construction on the Loop Trolley’s 2.2-mile stretch between Forest Park and University City wrapped up in November and, according to trolley officials, test runs on Delmar Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue are set to begin in the next week or so.

Loop Trolley cars delayed but project still on track

Jan 31, 2017
Joe Edwards poses with a green and white trolley car purchased in Seattle for the Loop Trolley.
Synergy Group

The Loop Trolley project is still on track to begin giving rides this spring despite delays in getting some of the street cars to St. Louis.

Construction on the 2.2 mile route between Forest Park and the Delmar Loop wrapped up last fall, but two of the trolleys remain at a facility in Ida Grove, Iowa, for testing.

The Loop Trolley Transportation Development District

All major construction on the Delmar Loop Trolley has been completed.

Trolley construction began March 2015. The final path of the trolley circles more than two miles from the western end of The Loop and through Forest Park near the Missouri History Museum.

trolley missouri history museum
Rachel Heidenry | 2009

Construction of the Loop Trolley is causing roads to close at the edge of St. Louis and University City.

The intersection of DeBaliviere and Forest Park Parkway is now closed. Traffic will be rerouted around Forest Park for the next three weeks.

Joe Edwards poses with a green and white trolley car purchased in Seattle for the Loop Trolley.
Synergy Group

Commuters who use Delmar Boulevard to get between University City and St. Louis will need to temporarily find an alternate route starting Monday.

The intersection of Delmar Boulevard and Kingsland Avenue on the western edge of Delmar Loop will be closed for the next three weeks while contractors put in a switch for the Loop Trolley.

Loop Trolley construction in Feb. 2016

Another busy intersection in the Delmar Loop will be shut down starting Monday for Loop Trolley construction. More than 85 percent of the track for the project has been installed, but traffic won’t be allowed at Skinker and Delmar boulevards for at least the next 12 days.

Work begins this week to lay Loop Trolley tracks

Jun 14, 2015
Artist rendering of the proposed Loop Trolley stop in front of the Delmar MetroLink Station.
courtesy Loop Trollety Transportation Development District / Loop Trolley Transportation Development District

Traffic on three blocks of Delmar Blvd. is being diverted to the road’s westbound lanes beginning Monday in order to start laying tracks for the Loop Trolley.

While construction is underway between Kingsland Ave. and Melville Ave. there will be no street parking on that stretch of Delmar.

The groundbreaking for the Loop Trolley took place Thursday.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

With bands, balloons, and the clang of a bell, the Loop Trolley project officially broke ground on Thursday.

(Missouri History Museum)

The Missouri History Museum’s long-vacant Delmar Boulevard property — whose purchase contributed to the departure of former Missouri History Museum head Robert Archibald — will finally be put to use.

The Museum’s board of trustees has granted a license to use the land at 5863 Delmar to St. Louis’ Loop Trolley Development District.

Loop trolley 2010
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Updated at 4:18 p.m. with plaintiffs' spokesman Tom Sullivan's comments.

The track has been cleared for the University City Loop Trolley after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Monday.

The suit had been filed in November by four plaintiffs, including former University City Council Member Elsie Glickert. (Here's our story about the lawsuit from back in November.)